You are the creator of your own destiny


An important skill needed by youth with disabilities is learning how to advocate for themselves and the supports they need. This means learning about their rights and options and being able to communicate their needs (e.g., assistive technology, accommodations) both at school and work.

As professionals, you are able to provide opportunities for youth to practice their self-advocacy skills, connect youth to training, and encourage families to foster appropriate independent living skills.

Practices | Strategies | Tools


Promising Practices

Goals of Self-Advocacy Training:
These are some of the outcomes used to measure the success of self-advocacy training activities.

  • Be able to communicate with others

    about their disability and accommodation needs

  • Understand laws and their legal rights

    and how these change as an adult

  • Identify potential areas of interest

    for careers and education

  • Set short and long term goals

    for their future



Action Steps for Teens

The following strategies can be incorporated into your self-advocacy training or in the supports and services you provide to youth.

If the youth you are working with are looking for a place to start when preparing for adulthood, these are some things they can do right now to get ready! Part of being a great self-advocate is learning to take action to achieve goals for yourself. These steps can help youth identify goals and take action on things that are meaningful to them and make becoming an adult not as intimidating.


Communication and Engagement Strategies

  • Hold training where youth already are - at school, Boys and Girls Club, or etc.
  • Make multiple contacts to increase attendance.
  • Gather basic information about youth before training begins.
  • Consider reading and language barriers.
  • Consider texting as part of your communication strategies.
Turn Knowledge into Action

Training Tips

These suggestions are based on lessons learned through Wisconsin Promise and other projects focused on working with youth and families. Sometimes individualized counseling, coaching, mentoring, and training is best, but holding group training provides opportunities for peer interactions and practice that can have a positive impact on youth learning.

  • Ensure every activity is inclusive of all youth, no matter their abilities.
  • Consider the instructor to student ratio (recommend 6-10 youth/instructor).
  • Use active teaching strategies and multiple hands-on learning activities.
  • Establish expectations - such as cell phone use and general conduct. Then have a little flexibility too!
  • Be careful when you use acronyms. People may not know what they mean.
  • Add variety to keep learners engaged and keep things interesting!
  • Break difficult content or concepts into small chunks.
  • Relate information to real life examples.
  • Schedule regular breaks.


Following are some goals to strive for to improve advocacy skills for families. You can introduce the following resources to families or use them to supplement services and supports you provide.